The future of work and technology

2050 might be a bit too far away, but by gazing that far into the future we can see current trends, events and “signals” as perhaps harbingers of what may well become our lived experience.

The “Millenium Project”, gathers thoughts/intelligence/wisdom from over 3,500 futurists, scholars, business planners, and policy makers who work for organisations, governments, corporations, NGOs, and universities from across the globe.

A recent project looked at “Future Work/Technology 2050”. That is, what will the economy look like for our children and grandchildren?

They came up with three scenarios that are likely to occur.

To put this further into context, here is the background that the scenarios were based upon:

“Future artificial intelligence that can autonomously create, re-write, and implement software simultaneously around the world is a unique historical factor in job displacement” says Jerome Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project, and adds that, “the Internet is also a historical factor in job creation. Information and means of production are far more open and distributed in the forthcoming biological and artificial intelligence revolutions than they were during the industrial revolution and the information revolution; hence, the frontiers for work may be greater than the information age revolution.”

Here are there three scenarios. Which one do you hope for, which one do you dread, which one do you think will happen?

  • 2050 Scenario 1: It’s Complicated – A Mixed Bag. A business-as-usual trend projection of the increasing acceleration of change with both intelligence and stupidity characterized decisionmaking. Irregular adoption of advance technology; high unemployment where governments did not create long-range strategies, and mixed success on the use of universal basic income. Giant corporation’s powers have often grown beyond government control, in this government-corporate, virtual-3D, multi-polar world of 2050.
  • 2050 Scenario 2: Political/Economic Turmoil – Future Despair. Governments did not anticipate the impacts of artificial general intelligence and had no strategies in place as unemployment exploded in the 2030s leaving the world of 2050 in political turmoil. Social polarism and political grid-lock in many forms have grown. Global order has deteriorated into a combination of nation-states, mega-corporations, local militias, terrorism, and organized crime.
  • Scenario 3: If Humans Were Free – the Self-Actualization Economy. Governments did anticipate the impacts of artificial general intelligence, conducted extensive research on how to phase in universal basic income systems, and promoted self-employment. Artists, media moguls, and entertainers helped to foster cultural change from an employment culture to a self-actualization economy.

Although it is a while away, if we look we can see the seeds of each of these tomorrows around us today.

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